Archive for October 2009
Some of my paintings aren’t taken from my dreams such as this one above. This one is what emerged when I allowed my conscious mind to let go of control in order to see what would appear. Active imagination is an important way to access the unconscious contents. Here, the same scene is viewed from two moods, one is content, the other is depressed. The image tells me that at any given time, the same world exists in different dimensions. For my purposes, one highlights the masculine aspect of sun and the other highlights the feminine aspect of moon.
This is important stuff for me. Not only does it talk about the polarities within my “self,” it also talks to me about typology and how opposites both attract and repel in terms of relationships. The mystery of the “other” always remains a mystery and therefore allows attraction to survive in the long term – this is what the inner self wants and needs. Yet, the frustration also remains and gets in the way of the wants and needs of the outer self. I want quite, you want voices. I need voices, you need quiet. One is both satisfied and frustrated at the same time.
This polarity of a fractal world is externalised in community and in the broader outer world. What the world needs and what the world wants are often at odds. Sadly, it falls to the lowest common denominator where consciousness, itself needs to negotiate to the lowest common level of understanding. That leaves the collective shadow, the collective unconsciousness a large sphere of influence. This is when bad things happen collectively. We see it today in the news, we have seen it in the past when one man’s personal shadow is fed by the collective shadow which in turn raised the level of acted out shadow by the collective. If you don’t believe that a fractal world exists, look at the polarities in the newspapers, look at your community, look at your relationships – finally, look within.
The whole is made up of all the parts. There are no parts to be cast off. We are both shadow and light, god and devil.
Just an update to today’s post. It is time to now give out treats so I want to wish all a Happy Halloween, or a hallowed eve for All Saint’s Day. Either way, it is a time for the archetypes and shadow figures to come out and play.
This painting was my recording of a dream. Sometimes I record dreams with words, sometimes with paintings, sometimes, I record them in my dreams and realise later that the dream never took an outer world form. In the dream world, nothing is really all that straight forward for me. Everything is metaphoric. Like many people, my dreams end up having no recognizable message for me. That isn’t something that concerns me as I know that the “Work” of the dream is to process life, both inner and outer, so that there is some internal integration.
Sometimes, I get to glimpse, obliquely, at what is going on and why it is going on. The awareness doesn’t change too much of what I do, but it does allow me to feel a bit more comfortable with the processing and the direction. I have to admit that I don’t “religiously” record all of my dreams. I don’t have the patience or the need or the desire to do so. Perhaps that is just an excuse to give in to my lack of attention to these things. Perhaps it is simply that I trust in my own instincts to recognise when I need to do dream work. In the end, all that matters is that I am okay with myself.
As you can see, this is another mandala from April of 1998. This one is built on the first one though at the time I never knew this. The first one had a fleur-de-lys at the centre, a symbol of my French Canadian roots. The half fletched arrows speak to more roots, aboriginal roots. The two together are called Métis.
This mandala honours the four directions, four forces – air, earth, fire and water, the sense of wholeness embodied with the inclusion of the unconscious. At the centre, yin and yang.
The weather is quite cool, hanging around the freezing mark under dark skies. A light snowfall during the night has now melted leaving everything damp and slippery. It feels colder than it really is – a good day to do some work on the computer, a good day to write, my way of getting to know myself better.
Most people confuse self-knowledge of their conscious ego-personalities. Those with any ego-consciousness at all take it for granted that they know themselves. But the real psychic facts are for the most part hidden. The ego knows only its own contents, which are largely dependent on social factors. Without some knowledge of the unconscious and its contents one cannot claim to know oneself. (Sharp, Jungian Psychology Unplugged, 1998, p. 133)
Okay, so this isn’t a photo. This is one of my “works” that I scanned two days ago along with three other images that will find their way here. Two of the images are of mandalas and two of the images are taken from dreams. Before I drew this image, I had felt it building within me (I kept a journal which was updated periodically during the day with brief notes) and decided to let it “brew” within me before I actually sat down to let the image emerge. In reading my notes from that time, I saw that even when the image was completed, I still didn’t “know” what it was all about. It simply was something that happened.
Of course, it didn’t take much thought after the fact to see that the mandala was mostly about providing clues to the question, “Who am I?” The answer isn’t often very clear. What is clear though, is that it is in moments where there is tension, where there is conflict, that the inner aspects of self take on a bit more shape. Such was the situation when this image emerged. At that time, the very foundations of who I was was being assaulted, a fortunate occurrence as it unlocked me from my self-imposed straight jacket in which I forced anything that would disturb the status quo of my presence in the outer world into the darkness.
This image told me I was more than the outer collection of personae. It talked to me of hidden, denied roots. And in doing so, I began to feel again.
I haven’t taken a photo for a few days. I then thought of digging into my archives for a photo for today’s post. This photo was taken in October, 2006 in the city of Suzhou, China. It is a city that is filled with canals, the Venice of China. While living in China for two years in a city only about an hour away from Suzhou, we managed to visit the city a number of times simply for the sake of exploring.
For me, there is a need at times to step away from the status quo, the daily norm so that I can see something different, even if it really isn’t too different. I’ll give an example here.
I often go for walks no matter where I find myself living. It doesn’t take long for a walking routine to find a familiar path along which I walk almost oblivious of the walk itself. This happens when the path becomes predictable from having been travelled many times. Almost immediately finding myself in a new place, a walk of similar distance becomes a journey of discovery. My camera finds scenes and people to engage my mind. I become more present in this outer world.
Returning back to well-travelled paths, I disappear into silences and inner spaces. Sometimes it becomes an emptiness, sometimes it becomes an opportunity for the inner voices to gift me with thoughts and ideas and projects. The shifting rhythms of new and familiar create a balance for me. And in the process, provide me with these photo images which become symbols of something more than their two-dimensional content.
Now that autumn is well on its way towards winter, the sounds of geese fill the air quite frequently. Snow geese, Canada geese, Speckled geese mix together as the flocks grow larger and larger as they finish filling up as much as possible while feeding on the left overs to be found in the fields following harvest of the grains grown around here.
I am doing my part in getting ready for winter as well. Each year at this time I go through a process of putting a thin plastic film on my windows so as to eliminate drafts of cold air coming into the house and prevent having the windows frost up so that can’t see out. I put this plastic on the inside of these windows creating a wind barrier as well as creating an added layer of insulating air. It works.
Barriers, this blocking out of unwanted stuff is not really any different than what we do with social and psychological aspects. As Daryl Sharp notes in his book Jungian Psychology Unplugged:
In one’s immediate world, there are attitudes and behavior that are socially acceptable, and those that are not. In our formative years it is natural to repress, or suppress, the unacceptable aspects of ourselves. They “fall into” the unconscious and become shadow. What is left is the persona – the “I” one presents to the outside world. (Sharp, Jungian Psychology Unplugged, 1998, p. 27).
Each spring, I have another task, that of removing the plastic from the windows so that I can let the house breathe in the fresh spring air. I go through these cycles of both limiting and allowing access to the inside of my house – and to the inside of my “self.” And the persona gradually changes as unconscious contents are allowed to enter into consciousness, a process that revitalizes my sense of self as well as my soul.
It’s been a few days since my last post. Life somehow seems to be conspiring to keep me away from being overly present here. Most of the time away has been spent on being more present in my face to face life, especially with my son, his wife and new son. These are good reasons to be lest present here. Now that I am home, I have spent time working on photos of my new grandson in order to create a few pictures that will celebrate the event. With the first set of proofs done, I am now able to focus a bit here.
Today’s photo was taken in Goa, India. Obviously, I take a lot of sunset photos, especially over water. For me, it is not simply about a beautiful scene; it is more about the almost overwhelming fullness to the point where there remains a sense of emptiness. Water symbolizes the unconscious and air symbolizes consciousness. The horizon is a fine line that separates the two, a line that is difficult to isolate, a line that is almost not even there. Strange, isn’t it, we know that the two are separate but we can’t seem to find the exact dividing line that separates the two – truth is, there is no definitive line. Water is in air and air is in water. I guess that is trying to tell us something about the nature of ourselves in terms of consciousness and unconsciousness – the line between is porous.